Regulation - LGIC

Regulation for the nickel smelting and refining industry

Regulation Number(s):
O. Reg. 652/21
O. Reg. 653/21
Instrument Type:
Regulation - LGIC
Bill or Act:
Environmental Protection Act
Summary of Decision:
Key requirements of the new sector specific regulation include:
• install the best available sulphur dioxide emissions control technology identified in the regulation within two to three years of the regulation applying, or
• submit a plan within two years for equivalent methods to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions that considers cost effectiveness and implement these methods within 8 years of the regulation applying.

Facilities will also be required to:
• maintain and optimise current air pollution controls and management methods to further reduce sulphur dioxide emissions
• assess how well equipment captures sulphur dioxide emissions
• perform root cause analyses to determine the cause of peak concentrations measured at air monitors in the community and develop a plan for corrective and preventive actions

Other actions

In addition to the new regulation, the ministry amended the Air Pollution - Local Air Quality Regulation O.Reg.419/05 to exempt these facilities from the sulphur dioxide air standards and other requirements associated with those standards when the new regulation applies to each of the facilities.

The ministry and the companies will undertake the additional work to support continuous improvement that was detailed in the original proposal, including:
• the ministry will conduct new air dispersion modelling of the three facilities
• the ministry will update the companies' environmental compliance approvals

Proposed amendments to each site's environmental compliance approval will be posted separately on the Environmental Registry for public comment at a later date.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
Facilities are expected to incur new administrative and compliance costs to implement the requirements in the regulation. This can be considered to be offset by savings resulting from not having to meet the new sulphur dioxide air standards by July 1, 2023.

It is expected that the new regulation and exemption will result in a net reduction in costs for regulated facilities over a ten-year period (2022-2031) based on the following:
• administrative costs associated with new reporting, record keeping, assessments, monitoring and communications requirements, including:
o studies to understand fugitive emissions from facilities
o root cause analysis and implementing corrective and preventative actions if emissions exceed 120 ppb at community monitors
o installing additional continuous emissions monitoring systems and possibly additional local air quality monitors
• installing and operating new technology-based requirements to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions, which could be considered a cost savings from having to meet the updated air standard by July 1, 2023.

The cost savings have been estimated to be approximately $8.4 million over the ten-year period (there is uncertainty associated with this estimate).

The net health and environmental effects will depend on which approach each facility takes to comply with the regulation. Emission reductions would be expected to contribute to health and environmental benefits from better air quality locally and across the province and indirectly contribute to reducing fine particulate matter across much of the province.

Further Information:
Proposal Number:
Posting Date:
January 20, 2021
Summary of Proposal:
Following a 45-day public consultation period, the ministry is now moving forward with a new regulation that will support two nickel smelting and refining companies located in Sudbury, Glencore and Vale, to plan for further action to reduce their sulphur dioxide emissions and improve air quality management within their plants.

This industry sector-based regulation to address sulphur dioxide air emissions from the nickel smelting and refining industry in the Sudbury area will replace certain requirements under the Local Air Quality Regulation.

These regulations will allow the facilities to plan for the investments needed to create further emissions reductions, while at the same time taking steps to improve air quality reporting.

The approach also includes additional actions to support this regulation including updates to the existing environmental compliance approvals, with improved monitoring, health risk interpretation and public communication to enhance transparency in the local community, which are described in this decision notice. Those changes will be posted on the Environmental Registry for consultation after this decision on the regulation.

The new sector specific regulation for sulphur dioxide air emissions from nickel smelting and refining facilities in the Sudbury area will apply to one smelter operated by Glencore on January 1, 2022, before its current site-specific standard expires. Vale's two facilities, a smelter and a refinery, will be required to comply with the regulation on July 1, 2023 when the new sulphur dioxide air standards come into effect.

The new requirements will help bring facilities into compliance while allowing them to continue operations at their Sudbury locations.

We will continue to work with the public, municipalities, Indigenous Communities, environmental groups and industry to drive strategies that better protect air quality and address unique challenges in communities by creating tailored solutions.
Contact Address:
Kelly Miki
135 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M4V 1M2
Effective Date:
January 1, 2022